The Importance of Developing a Personal Learning Network
I am forever trying to improve upon the staff development opportunities offered on my campus because I would like them to be authentic and actually challenge and provoke thoughts and new ideas amongst my staff.
I always get reflective about our staff development practices during this time of year because, although I think my campus offers much more relevant and engaging PD than most campuses, our attendance begins to peter out once teachers have earned their “required staff development credit.” This irks me be because I need teachers to want to continually learn and grow – to learn for the sake of learning, trying new things and challenging themselves.
So, on my drive in to work the other day, I was thinking of how I learn best and where my content comes from… and surprise… it isn’t in staff development sessions. The majority of new ideas and new resources is introduced to me through my Personal Learning Network, so I began to formulate an idea of how to restructure our staff development to offer the same learning opportunity to my staff.
I would like them to understand what a PLN is, the importance of it, and how to develop one… and then… I would like to be able to “grant” them SD credit for participating and learning from their PLN.
So, I have a plan of how to do this in my mind, but I need some feedback from you all to help me get it organized.
So here are my thoughts…
- The Teaching and Learning Tuesday that will be offered on Tuesday of next week will be a time for me to introduce the idea of PLN’s, demo the tools I use to develop and follow my PLN, have a few others share their PLN’s, and then brainstorm how to introduce the Personal Learning Network SD plan to the campus.
- BTW – I am planning on sharing Google Reader, Twitter and Delicious as my main PLN tools (among with informal meetings with people on my campus).
- Theses are my initial thoughts on the plan – teachers will “write” an individualized plan including what their PLN will entail, what they hope to learn and how they will incorporate these new ideas into their classroom.
- The problem arises with granting the “credits.” The district requires each teacher to earn a certain amount of SD credits each school year and the hours have to be documented. My thought is that the plan teachers create will culminate in a presentation or “interview” with myself and/or the staff development VP where they can discuss what they learned and how they used this information to improve their teaching.
- Teachers will be able to choose the topic they would like to learn more about (within the confines of district/campus goals).
So with that all said… here are the problems I forsee and need your help working out…
- I don’t want the PLN staff development plan to result in “credit grubbing” and me or someone else having to decide that this person did something amazing so they earn 6 hours of credit while this person didn’t do much so they only earn 3 hours.
- Essentially, I would like the PLN staff development plan to motivate teachers to learn more about their topic and the credits just be a bonus on the side.
- And, how do I document all this stuff?
I would really love your thoughts, and if you are a member of my staff (and even if you are not, you are welcome to join us), I encourage you to attend Tuesday and help us brainstorm.
I have had some help in developing my thoughts on PLN’s and most of the ideas have come from some of the people I “follow.” Here are a couple of the posts that have helped spur my latest staff development undertaking:
- Will Richardson’s post on Personalizing Education for Teacher’s, Too
- Karl Fisch’s post on My Personal Learning Network in Action
- Jeff Utecht’s post on The Beginning of the End, cont.
- David Pogue’s article in the New York Times – The Twitter Experiment
All of these thoughts are a work in progress, so please leave me some feedback (constructive criticism encourage as well).